The Official Blog of Graceland

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm!

Play the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Trivia Game

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ ’68 Special this month! Check out our previous blogs about the ’68 Special: 50th Anniversary “If I Can Dream” Bill Belew Take the quiz below – and don’t forget to plan your visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland! We hope you’re inspired to visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee! Start planning your visit...
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’68 at 50: Elvis’ Iconic Special Turns 50

In 50 minutes – from “Trouble” to “If I Can Dream” – Elvis Presley reaffirmed his title as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis’ iconic, game-changing special debuted on NBC 50 years ago, on December 3, 1968 at 9:00 pm ET. It was immediately a smashing success, garnering about 42% of the viewing audience, and 50 years later, it’s still one of Elvis’ most defining moments in a career full of iconic performances, movies and music. Elvis spent much of the 1960s making movies, and he was growing weary of it. He wanted to return to his music career, so in 1967, his manager, Col. Tom Parker, began negotiations to produce a television special with NBC. The show would mark Elvis’ first television appearance and live performances in more than eight years. In 1968, Elvis was 33. He and Priscilla had married in 1967, and they became parents in February 1968 when Lisa Marie was born. The special, now known as the ’68 Special, was named simply “Elvis,” and it was now time to find the perfect creative team to create the special. Bob Finkel, who had produced the successful “Andy Williams Show” (for which he had won Emmy Awards), signed on to be the special’s executive producer. Col. Parker wanted the special to have a Christmas theme, as it was airing in December, but Finkel talked Parker out of that idea. Instead, Finkel and other executives wanted to celebrate Elvis’ natural charisma and talent, and to tell a story loosely based on Elvis’ life. The Singer Company, known for its sewing machines, became the special’s only sponsor, and Singer executive Alfred D. Scipio liked the semi-documentary feel of the special, which would showcase Elvis as an innovator in music. The concept, he felt, complemented Singer products. Steve Binder, then 36, was hired as the special’s director. He had planned to go into medicine, but after meeting with members of the music industry, he turned his focus to music and directing musical productions. He had a natural talent for it and he directed many successful projects, like the TV shows “Hullabaloo” and “Shindig.” He also directed the 1965 documentary “TAMI Show,” which featured artists such as The Beach Boys, The Supremes, James Brown, Lesley Gore, The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry. Elvis had enjoyed that production, and, after Binder produced a new Petula Clark special, his reputation was...
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‘Live a Little, Love a Little’ at 50

This blog could have been called “Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips” at 50, but thank goodness, it’s not. That was the original title to Elvis Presley’s 28th movie, “Live a Little, Love a Little.” Released in October 1968, the comedy just turned 50. In addition to plenty of laughs, the movie gave us one of Elvis’ biggest hits, “A Little Less Conversation.” Let’s take a look back at this comedy, and say farewell to one of the king’s co-stars, on this week’s Graceland Blog. “Live a Little, Love a Little” is based on the novel “Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips” by Dan Greenburg. Greenburg became a best-selling writer with his 1964 book “How to Be a Jewish Mother.” He adapted “Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips” into a screenplay with Michael A. Hoey. Other working titles for the film include “Bumblebee Oh Bumblebee” and “Born Rich.” Greenburg also wrote for the TV show “Adam’s Rib.” Hoey grew up around Hollywood movie studios, as his father was character actor Dennis Hoey. He worked with director Norman Taurog on several Elvis movies, including “Spinout,” “Stay Away Joe,” “Tickle Me” and “Live a Little, Love a Little.” He received two Emmy Award nods for his work on “Fame,” the TV show, and he produced several Emmy Award-winning shows. “Live a Little, Love a Little” was directed by Norman Taurog, who directed nine Presley pictures – more than any other director. He directed “G.I. Blues,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Girls!Girls!Girls!” “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” “Tickle Me,” “Spinout,” “Double Trouble” and “Speedway.” “Live a Little, Love a Little” was not only his last Elvis movie to direct, but the last movie he directed at all – he retired from directing after making this film. He later taught at the University of California School of Cinema and remained a board member of the Director’s Guild. Elvis reported to MGM Studios on March 4, 1968, to begin pre-production. He worked with musical conductor and writer Billy Strange – who he collaborated with on several films and on the ’68 Special – and recorded the soundtrack on March 7. Filming began on March 13, and locations included the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, Marineland, the Hollywood Citizen News building, Los Angeles Music Center and the streets of Hollywood Hills. In “Live a Little, Love a Little,” Elvis stars as photographer Greg Nolan. He’s working for two employers...
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Six Degrees of Elvis Presley

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is one of the most well-connected celebrities. Of course, Elvis worked with some of the most influential and legendary artists of his day, including Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Perkins, Ann-Margaret, Jerry Lee Lewis, Angela Lansbury, and many, many others. It’s through those connections that you can connect Elvis to today’s biggest actors and singers. Naturally, there are countless connections to be made – but here are just a few of our favorites. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll loved comic books, and he’d probably be amused that he’s just a few degrees from today’s biggest comic book superhero movie stars. Actor Kurt Russell appears briefly in Elvis’ 1963 film “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” and Russell has enjoyed a lengthy career. In 2017 he starred in the blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” alongside stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper – putting them all just two degrees away from Elvis. Cooper stars in and directs the new hit musical “A Star is Born” with Lady Gaga, putting Gaga only three degrees from the king.   Actor and dancer Russ Tamblyn served as an uncredited choreography advisor for “Jailhouse Rock.” Tamblyn’s daughter, Amber, is an actress and has starred in films like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “The Ring” and “127 Hours,” plus TV shows like “Joan of Acadia,” “General Hospital” and “Two and a Half Men.” That puts Amber at just two degrees from the king.   The legendary Angela Lansbury starred in “Blue Hawaii” as Elvis’ character’s mom – even though Lansbury was just 10 years older than the king. Lansbury is still working; in fact, she’ll star in the upcoming “Mary Poppins Returns,” starring Emily Blunt and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. That, too, puts those stars at just two degrees away from the king. Another star with just two degrees from Elvis is Whitney Houston. The legendary singer’s mother, Cissy Houston, sang back-up for Elvis as a member of The Sweet Inspirations. (She also sings on the new Elvis gospel record, “Where No One Stands Alone.”) Actor George Clooney also has family connections to the king. George Clooney is the nephew of the legendary actress and singer Rosemary Clooney, and she starred in “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby. Elvis has two connections to Crosby’s family: Crosby’s nephew Chris Crosby presented Elvis...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 7

Here we are, Elvis fans… the last part in our Elvis’ #1 Hits series. It’s really incredible to consider Elvis’ success. Fans often gasp when they round the corner to see his wall of gold at the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. So many Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records. So many awards. So many records sold, so many spins on the record player, jukebox and CD and, now, so many digital streams. So many lives touched. This final part of our series spotlights a few of the king’s biggest hits. Learn more about Elvis’ #1’s in the previous parts of this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6. Be sure to tell us your favorite Elvis hit in the comments! “Heartbreak Hotel” “Well, the bellhop’s tears keep flowin’ And the desk clerk’s dressed in black Well, they’ve been so long on Lonely Street Well, they’ll never, they’ll never get back…” According to songwriters Mae Axton and Tommy Durden, the inspiration for this blues song came from an article in the Miami Herald. According to the story, a man had completed suicide and left no identification or any other information, aside from a note that read, “I walk a lonely street.” A demo of the song was made by Glen Reeves, and Axton took that demo to a DJ convention in Nashville, where she played it for Elvis. She offered him a share of the writers’ publishing ownership if the song would be his first new single release for RCA, which had just purchased his recording contract from Sun Records. Elvis and his band recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” on January 10, 1956, at RCA studios in Nashville in his first recording session for RCA. Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins were on guitar, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Floyd Cramer played piano. Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, plus Ben and Brock Speer, provided background vocals. The original lyrics were “they pray to die,” but were changed to “they could die.” Take 7 was chosen as the single, and it was released on January 27, 1956. The young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a hit – by April, it sold a million copies. “Heartbreak Hotel” became Elvis’ first #1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart and his first gold record award winner. It reigned on the Billboard pop charts for eight weeks of...
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Elvis Week – Through Fans’ Eyes

We’re still feeling that Elvis Week magic here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland! Elvis fans are, too – you can see it in the Elvis Week social media posts. Check out a few of these awesome fan photos from Elvis Week 2018, and mark your calendar for August 10-18, 2019 – that’s Elvis Week 2019! (and remember – you can book your special Elvis Week 2019 stay at The Guest House at Graceland now and save with our special Early Bird rate. This deal ends on Tuesday, September 4, so book now!) Elvis Week Events It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Elvis Week events and forget to snap the perfect photo or selfie. Luckily, these fans kept their phones handy for a quick shot!         At the King’s Castle There is no better time to tour Graceland than during Elvis Week. These fans took advantage of the week to snap some great selfies in and outside the mansion.         At the Graceland Gates and Wall Another iconic location for the ultimate Elvis Week selfie is Graceland’s gates and the wall, which is full of lovely messages to Elvis from fans worldwide.   And finally, we love the creativity and the message here… Check out Elvis Week photos now at the Graceland.com photo gallery. Share some of your favorite Elvis Week memories in the...
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Elvis Week Blog 10 – Elvis Week 2018 Wrap Up

BY JON WATERHOUSE They don’t make the appropriate adjectives to describe the phenomenon that’s Elvis Week. To quote the 1973 Elvis tune, “it’s just impossible.” Still I’ll attempt to take care of blogging business by providing a snapshot of the 2018 edition’s greatest hits. This year’s installment came loaded with amazing musical performances, revealing live interviews, eye-widening surprises, fan fellowship and more with Elvis Presley as the unbreakable common thread. Candlelight Vigil   Nothing speaks to Elvis’ enduring and continuing impact on the world like this annual procession of fans. On Aug. 15, the eve of the anniversary of his passing, the Elvis Week tradition continued. Thousands of fans with candles in hand made their way up Graceland’s winding driveway to pay their respects at Elvis’ gravesite. Listening Party for “Where No One Stands Alone” Album Release The acclaimed new Elvis album –a contemporary reimagining of Elvis gospel songs with new instrumentation, arrangements and background vocals– received the ultimate kick-off event. Co-producers Lisa Marie Presley, Andy Childs and Joel Weinshanker, along with Sony Music’s John Jackson, treated fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the album’s creation. Darlene Love For the first time at Elvis Week, this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer gave fans the gift of an exclusive live performance peppered with her own Elvis memories. Her set featured Love classics, her own take on Elvis songs and music she recorded with Presley himself. The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley Concert Several of Elvis’ back-up vocalists (Elvis’ Imperials and former members of J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet) brought Presley’s favorite genre to life on the Graceland Soundstage. The show’s finale featured both groups along with Andy Childs recreating the latest version of Elvis’ “How Great Thou Art,” a highlight on the “Where No One Stands Alone” album. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Some of the top Elvis tribute artists from around the world battled it out for the premier title. Ben Thompson of London, England took home the win, which includes an Elvis Presley Enterprises performance contract and a cash prize of $20,000. Fun fact: Thompson can be seen as Elvis in the 2017 sci-fi blockbuster “Blade Runner 2049.” The Live Interviews Elvis Week onstage hosts Tom Brown, DJ Argo and Andy Childs wrangled live conversations with a wide variety of Elvis world luminaries. Among the highlights: “’68 Special” director Steve Binder, music legend Darlene Love,...
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Elvis Week Blog 9 – Elvis and Ronnie Tutt: Back in the Building

BY JON WATERHOUSE Elvis Week Brunch with Ronnie Tutt From the late 1960s until the end of his career, Elvis’ live performances had an undeniable pulse. Certainly, Presley himself provided the electrical force emanating from the stage. The tangible heartbeat of the music came courtesy of drummer Ronnie Tutt. Like D.J. Fontana before him, Tutt’s rhythmic skill not only provided the essential backbone for Elvis’ live sets, but his percussive instincts often deftly accentuated Presley’s improvisational movements. In turn, Tutt’s powerful drumming would fuel and inspire Elvis to physically intensify his performances and dynamically pull back the reigns when needed. Tutt’s tenure in the TCB Band inspired fans to attend yesterday’s sold-out Elvis Week Brunch at the Guest House. Attendees noshed on a southern-centric buffet, but the event’s headlining entree was Tutt himself. The acclaimed drummer engaged in an extended chat with host Tom Brown, musing on his eight-year stint of recording and sharing the stage with Elvis. “(His stories) are so heartfelt,” said Shantay Wood of Memphis, a brunch attendee. “You can see him thinking and delving deep into his memory and his heart to share that with the fans. …He still has that deep appreciation for Elvis. ..It’s like that continual love affair all of us fans have with Elvis, but Ronnie’s is so much deeper.” Tutt’s connection with Presley had a life beyond the stage, a personal bond Elvis forged with his bandmates and their own respective loved ones. “He was very respectful to our families family when we’d bring (them around),” said Tutt, who recalled Elvis once taking time to make a Christmas phone call to Tutt’s mother. “(Family) meant a lot to him. …We became part of his family.” The drummer shared a humorous 1970s-era story of an encounter between Elvis and his then 5-year-old son Ron Jr. According to Tutt, his son gave Presley an honest critique of a Las Vegas performance. “You stood in front of my daddy the whole show, and I couldn’t see him.” The recollections continued, and afterward Tutt made his way to a ballroom table where he signed autographs for Wood and a long line of other fans. This included three generations of the Cooper family from Queensland, Australia, and 13-year-old Nate Pieper of Forth Worth, Texas. “He always put out such positive energy,” said Pieper, who counts Tutt as one of his favorite TCB band members. Elvis...
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Elvis Week Blog 8 – Graceland Museum Magic and Five Food Finds

BY JON WATERHOUSE A Quintet of Museum Magic Even if you’re visiting Graceland for the first time or the 50th, the museums’ eye candy never fails to delight. Thanks to the handy work of the Graceland archives department and their vast well of material, new items and fresh exhibits roll out frequently. Yesterday, I made sure to explore the memorabilia on view in the latest exhibits Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley and Where No One Stands Alone: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley. The exhibits can be found in the Fashion King and the Elvis: The Entertainer career museums, respectively. Harley Davidson Golf Cart Lisa Marie Presley was riding a Harley before she was old enough to drive. No, she wasn’t rumbling on a hog, but rather this baby blue golf cart, which Elvis gave her in December 1976. She used it to zip around the Graceland grounds. When visiting the Trophy Room on the mansion tour, keep an eye out for a display of the golf cart’s key and its jumbo keychain with LISA emblazoned upon it. Where to find: Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley White Faux Fur Coat and Family Album At the tender age of 2, Lisa Marie wore this tiny faux fur coat to protect her from Memphis’ wintry chill. The archivists pair the outwear with a family photo album found in Elvis’ desk drawer. Where to find: Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley Grammy Awards Elvis’ trio of Grammys, each awarded for gospel recordings, have an appropriate home in the Where No One Stands Alone: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley exhibit. Won by Elvis in 1967, 1972 and 1974, the trophies’ gold shimmer practically illuminate them from behind the glass. Where to find: Elvis: The Entertainer Bible Also in the gospel exhibit, this 1964 Christmas gift given to Elvis by his entourage, rests on display next to several other spiritually-minded items from Presley’s personal collection. Look closely at the Bible pages for Elvis’ handwritten notes. Where to find: Elvis: The Entertainer The Memphis Suit The multicolored bling on this bold, white jumpsuit commands attention. Thanks to its individual display case, visitors can get up close and personal, and check out the suit’s detail. The king wore this IC Costume Company creation at his March 1974 concert at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis. A recording of the show was immortalized on the album “Elvis Recorded...
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Elvis Week Blog 7 – Front Row at the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Celebration

BY JON WATERHOUSE Die-hards know every note, every scene, every subtle nuance of the landmark 1968 “Elvis” NBC television special. The beloved show –known as the “’68 Comeback Special” in fan speak– captures Presley arguably at his peak. Sleek and inspired, raw and reinvigorated. How could it possibly get any better? It happened last night at the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Celebration. The audience at the Graceland Soundstage witnessed what will go down as one of the most unique and moving multimedia presentations in Elvis Week history. Taking place in tandem with other screenings throughout the country on August 16, the Elvis Week show provided an exclusive happening. Event producer Andy Childs and a team of creatives infused a screening of the TV program’s original 90-minute version with a living, breathing documentary of sorts. Live behind-the-scenes recollections, musical enhancements, and Elvis’ original iconic costumes came together, taking the “’68 Special” experience to uncharted territory. Historic in nature, pivotal in Presley’s career trajectory, and still relevant today, “’68 Special” marked Elvis’ return to TV and performing in front of a live audience. It resulted in what many call one of Presley’s most passionate performances. Projected on the big screen with vintage commercials and the show’s original NBC introduction, the presentation gave the already larger-than-life musical film the appropriate size and scope. The Introductions Throughout the evening, some of the key players of the original broadcast took the stage. Producer-director Steve Binder, musical director Billy Goldenberg, and writer Allan Blye shared their own candid memories before introducing specific scenes. Dancer Tanya Lemani, who portrays the belly dancer in the “Little Egypt” scene, made a surprise appearance, dancing while donning a costume similar to what she wore 50 years earlier. Prerecorded reflections from Priscilla Presley, Elvis confidant and collaborator Jerry Schilling, songwriter Mac Davis and the late D.J. Fontana added even more perspective. The Costumes For the first time, Elvis’ trademark costumes from the original program, including that unmistakable black leather suit, were displayed onstage during a “’68 Special” screening. This unannounced element of the show took its own share of logistical preparation. According to Angie Marchese, vice president of archives and exhibits for Elvis Presley Enterprises, event producer Andy Childs proposed the concept, asking her blessing. “I thought it was an amazing idea. I told him, ‘I wouldn’t do this for anybody but you and Elvis,'” she said with a laugh....
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